CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — A Jefferson County man was charged with something that a local magistrate and former sheriff said is the first time he has seen it in 20 years in law enforcement.
James Richard Gaynor, 26, of 796 Logan’s Run Road in Kearneysville, W.Va., was arraigned Tuesday before Jefferson County Magistrate William Senseney on a single felony count of unlawful operation of a plant manufacturing distilled spirits.
He was released Wednesday on $5,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing, the date for which has not been set.
“I was sheriff of Jefferson County for eight years and a magistrate for 12, and this is the first time in 20 years that I know of anyone arrested for making a moonshine still,” Senseney said Thursday.
Gaynor faces a one- to five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $1,000 if he is convicted.
West Virginia State Police Sgt. Victor C. Lupis III was the investigating officer, assisted by Deputy Brandon Haynes of the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.
A Maryland State Police helicopter was used in the investigation.
Police were led to the still by an anonymous tipster who told dispatchers that there was an active still at the Logan’s Run Road address. It had a hot water tank with copper pipes that ran water to another tank near a well house, court records said.
Corn, sugar, corn mash, jugs and mason jars around the still showed that the device was functioning, court records said.
Gaynor returned to the still while investigators were at the scene and was taken into custody.
He told police how the device worked and the ingredients he used.
According to court records, Gaynor told investigators that he stopped making the stuff “because it didn’t taste right.”